I was listening to my son and daughter discuss the upcoming school year.  Neither are looking forward to summer ending, but only because they aren’t bored stiff yet and are still enjoying the lazy summer days (which both of them would probably say could have been even lazier).  Both are looking forward to seeing friends again, finding out what room they’re in and what the new school year will hold.

It made me think about how different I felt at this time of year when I was a child.

I dreaded the question adults so often began a conversation with as the start of school drew near.  “Are you ready for school yet?”  My usual answer was a quiet “Not really.”  That most often evoked a “You mean you aren’t bored yet?” and I’d repeat “Not really.”

In truth I wasn’t really bored.  I dreaded school.  The work wasn’t hard, it was the relationships.

I loved summer holidays, spending time exploring the fields, reading endlessly, imagining wonderful and exciting adventures… which almost never included school.  It’s rather funny in a way since one of my favourite games to play with all my stuffed animals before I went to school was…. teacher.  I’d line the back of the couch and the seat with every stuffed animal I had and they were wonderful students.  They listened intently and I thought school would be the best thing ever!

But it wasn’t.

Ok, I was certainly tiny for my age and I started at the age of 5 making me the youngest.  I was an only child and incredibly shy.  I was used to being with adults a lot since we lived on the farm so I had a more extensive vocabulary which got me more than one strange look.

The first few years were alright, but somehow I never felt totally comfortable or like I really fit in.  I put in my time and enjoyed all my time away from school.

Then in grade 3 things started to change, I was an easy target, especially in a small school.  Friends became tormentors. Everyone reacts differently, everyone has their triggers and their limits.  I hated going to school. I had a hard time sleeping.  I was terrified.  I threw up.  My mind raced. I came home at recess.  I’d go back to school.

After school and holidays, especially summer holidays became my sanctuary.  Everything was better just because I didn’t have to be around anyone from school.  I could feel good about myself. Just the thought of going back to class as the holidays ended made my stomach churn,  my skin flush, my hands get cold and all I wanted to do was run and hide.

I saw a psychiatrist once – he talked over me to my parents.  He said “Make her go to school.”  My parents said “What if she has a break down”.  He said “Then we’ll treat that.”  We left.  I saw a school psychologist.  He asked me questions, he listened to me.  He said “Do what you need to do.”  We did.

In grade 7, I changed schools.  Life immediately got better.  The fear slowly ebbed away, but it still lurked in the background.  If I heard a whisper I immediately thought it must be about me.  If someone forgot to call I worried I’ done something wrong and they were mad at me.  When friends got mad, well, I knew what they could do.  But it never did happen.  It took a long time for that fear to go away and in all honesty, it just sleeps a deep sleep.  Every once in awhile it still rumbles awake and intrudes upon my life.  Even though I’m all grown up.  Not so funny how that is.

I’m really glad my children can look forward to school at least a little bit and that the jitters they feel are simply the first day back jitters that are so common among students.  I find it very reassuring.

However, I also know that there are far too many kids out there thinking about the first day of school with absolute dread.  They would do almost anything to avoid it, and some will manage to do so.  They feel nauseous, scared, and lonely.  All they want is the same thing we all really want.

  • Kindness
  • Acceptance
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Understanding
  • Friendship
  • Safe

Is it really that hard?  Is it really so much to ask for?

In a couple of weeks, students and teachers will be back in classes.   Some are looking forward to it, some aren’t.  Some just need a friend.  Take the opportunity to make a real difference.  Wishing everyone a year filled with peace, learning and love.

As Kris Allen sings in The Vision Of Love

“We don’t gotta run, we don’t gotta hide
When someone needs somebody
We don’t need to say, we don’t got the time
When someone needs somebody
With a little faith and a little song
We can’t go wrong
We can’t go wrong”

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